Jordan Peterson Advocates For Segregated Social Media, KYC Requirements
After months of being exiled from Twitter by the company’s previous management, Jordan Peterson’s access to the platform was restored by Elon Musk on November 18.
Upon being unbanned, Peterson promptly thanked Musk (2:00pm), shouted out Musk (2:01pm), thanked Musk again (2:37pm), then immediately went to work advocating for the precise kind of elitist two-tiered system Musk has said he wants to build.
Don’t allow the anonymous troll-demons to post with the real verified people @elonmusk. Put them in their own hell, along with others like them: LOL LULZ BRO BRUH hyper-users are narcissistic, Machiavellian, psychopathic and sadistic. Really: https://t.co/l4SLpzUwmn https://t.co/RWTYUL276Z— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) November 18, 2022
This comment was widely panned, even by many of his own supporters and fellow “influencers.” Here’s a sampling. (Ironically, some of the best replies came from anonymous accounts, as is often the case on Twitter.)
Horrible elitist take— Luke Rudkowski (@Lukewearechange) November 19, 2022
– Gets reinstated to Twitter— Libertarian Party NH (@LPNH) November 18, 2022
– Instantly demands censorship https://t.co/qT2RFwyx3I
“Let’s turn Twitter into LinkedIn”— Echo Chamber (@echo_chamberz) November 19, 2022
Incredibly weak— Alex Gladstein 🌋 ⚡ (@gladstein) November 18, 2022
Pseudonymity is extremely important
Especially for people in dictatorships https://t.co/6zXqSwEMxT
Anonymous accounts are necessary in the fight against tyranny https://t.co/ZIZadKe1G6— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) November 18, 2022
Who defines “hate” here?— Aurelian of Rome ☪️ (@AurelianofRome) November 18, 2022
“Those who you would least want to define it. Don’t regulate it… because you can’t.”
Those are your words.
All proven to be a lie.
Hey Peterson, I’m not anonymous but this is the worst take imaginable— Punished Spinach 🥗 (@basedspinach) November 18, 2022
“Anon trolls could be here” he thought, “I’ve never been on this part of twitter before. There could be anon trolls everywhere.” The tears started welling in his eyes. “I HATE ANON TROLLS” he thought. He could hear the muffled whispers of Andrew Tate in his daughters room. pic.twitter.com/jxRkInZGdS— ᛟ Dark Age Raven ᛟ (@raven_brah) November 18, 2022
There are a lot of good pseudonymous individuals who don’t deserve to be looped together with anonymous trolls. Of all people @jordanbpeterson you should understand there is nuance to this conversation.— BORED.eth (@BoredElonMusk) November 19, 2022
This is especially serious in repressive countries where the government cracks down on speech— Godot (@GodotIsW8ing4U) November 18, 2022
Anonymity enables people to dissent without the fear that someone’s going to turn up at their door about it
Many will use anonymity irresponsibly but that’s not a steep price to pay pic.twitter.com/7iBirP1d2Q
Anon culture is nothing new. See Mark Twain, the founding fathers, Emily Dickinson, Shakespeare pseudonyms.— 👦🏻👦🏻.eth / Markus (📜,📜) (@marsterlund) November 19, 2022
It’s a necessary mask for the people with ideas that aren’t yet widely accepted by society
Even former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey chimed in, warning against any such move toward “less anonymity” on Twitter:
that would be a big mistake— jack (@jack) November 18, 2022
Absolutely, without privacy many could not speak against institutional or government power.— Dakara (@dakara_prisoner) November 18, 2022
Agreed.— Eliza (@elizableu) November 18, 2022
Political dissidents, whistleblowers, activists, survivors and journalists deserve an opportunity to remain anonymous globally.
Along with everyone else.
Many of the best accounts on this site are anonymous— Wesley Yang (@wesyang) November 19, 2022
This is a tough one for me. JP has been a big influence for me in the past but yes, lately he’s been turning in the wrong direction on many fronts. ‘Destroy your heroes’, I guess.. sucks.— Bitcoin Patriot (@The_BTC_Patriot) November 18, 2022
One of the most popular (pair of) replies referenced Peterson’s behavior in the face of the “biomedical tyranny” of the past couple years, most notably Peterson encouraging his followers to “get the damn vaccine.”
While you were bending the knee to biomedical tyranny, people with anonymous accounts were fighting to save lives and free people from oppression.— Dr. Benjamin Braddock (@GraduatedBen) November 18, 2022
Using your platform to encourage people who trust your judgement to self-harm is something that should prompt apology, soul-searching, and sitting in sackcloth and ashes outside of the gates of the anonymous posters who warned people of the dangers. pic.twitter.com/YQAJwag7bK— Dr. Benjamin Braddock (@GraduatedBen) November 18, 2022
Another (dreaded anonymous) user posted an entire thread delving into the “long and critical history of anonymous speech,” including, for example, some of America’s Founding Fathers in publications like Common Sense and The Federalist Papers:
🧵THREAD: 1) Some of the most important pieces of writing in history were anonymous. As inconvenient as it may be for the likes of @jordanbpeterson, there is a long and critical history of anonymous speech. Let’s take a closer look at those contributions. https://t.co/1hmjzuKm0C pic.twitter.com/8dD1CMY51F— Level39 (@level39) November 19, 2022
The Russell Brand Interview
Peterson actually began his crusade to “ban” anonymous accounts before he himself was even allowed back onto Twitter. For example, over two weeks before his own unbanning, he made similar comments during an apperance on Russell Brand’s popular online show.
Brand’s first question for Peterson was, Brand said, related to “Elon Musk’s recent take over on Twitter” and “whether he is a distinct and discrete category of billionaire.” Specifically: “How is he different, how is he the same, and how will Elon Musk’s position at Twitter affect your position on Twitter?”
Peterson started out by briefly acknowledging that he is “still banned” and that it “remains to be seen” whether Musk will unban him. He then pivoted to a three-minute commentary about how “large online platforms allow anonymous troll demons to rampage through society with no cost to themselves,” which he said was “the biggest problem“—a problem so big that it “actually pose[s] a threat to the Integrity of the culture itself.”
These people are “utter cowards, likely to be narcissists and Machiavellians, resentful people sitting in their basement at home dwelling on their misery and doing everything they can to spew toxicity out into the world,” he said, adding that when they are able to “multiply themselves millions of times using this incredible, powerful computer technology, they’re not even human anymore. In my estimation they’re literally a demonic force.” (“And I mean that in a technical sense.”)
Peterson concluded his remarks with a proposed solution—the same one he would go on to aggressively push on Twitter starting a couple weeks later:
“And so that’s what we’re seeing online. And that has to be stopped. I think the large tech companies should be required to put in know your customer laws. They should ban anonymous accounts, but in this way: imagine that you have a section for comments where it’s real human beings that are verified, and you have another section underneath that’s for anonymous troll demons. And if you want to go visit their hell and see what their resentful minds are spewing into the public landscape, then you can. Otherwise you stick to the real human beings.”
Here’s the clip (the part from 0:00-3:44):
The Biggest Problem
Again: The “biggest problem” facing social media, per Peterson, isn’t rampant big tech censorship by some of the most powerful multinational corporations on Earth.
It’s not the fact that this Orwellian dragnet has swept up, for instance, prominent doctors, scientists, and journalists who dissented about lockdown policies and Covid treatments, not to mention myriad other issues.
It’s not the fact that Elon Musk himself is now openly turning this censorship regime toward targets of his choosing, rather than actually dismantling it.
It’s not people getting “swatted,” fired from their job, imprisoned, or threatened with death for commenting about a controversial topic online, making a relatively benign joke, or owning a coveted Twitter handle.
It’s not the ensuing chilling effect that these phenomena have on the public discourse.
It is—very specifically—anonymous accounts run by average, otherwise powerless people “in their basement.”
That is “the biggest problem,” according to Jordan Peterson.
Sleight of Hand
Another highly notable aspect of Peter’s framing of this issue is the way he conflates “anonymous troll demons” with anonymity generally.
Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time on the internet at any point during the past (say) 25+ years is familiar with actual “trolls” – people who seem to delight in being as inflammatory and rude as possible, and whose primary purpose seems to be stirring the pot and getting a rise out of people.
Peterson focuses on the behavior of this subset of anonymous users when describing “the problem” (sorry, the BIGGEST problem), but then uses their behavior to smear and even dehumanize all anonymous users with the same broad brush, all while advocating for their banishment to internet “hell,” segregated from “real people” (like multimillionaire Daily Wire hosts who don’t have to worry about losing their jobs).
This slippery sleight of hand can be seen not only in his Russell Brand interview, but also in many of the comments he has made over the past couple weeks while aggressively pushing this smear, and his pro-censorship solution.
For instance (note: “nyms” means people who use pseudonyms):
Says the anonymous coward.— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) November 21, 2022
Says the anonymous coward, ignoring the research. https://t.co/QlQndPb3W8— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) December 8, 2022
Coward. https://t.co/jDhUSk0HHm— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) December 7, 2022
Note how these people are, supposedly, “cowards,” simply by virtue of not revealing the full name and identity to Jordan Peterson (and the entire internet) before criticizing him.
Remember, too, that this is after he had already received ALL of the replies we saw earlier in this article. The case for anonymity—and the fact that there are, indeed, many very valid reasons for people to want to be anonymous online, even if certain jerks and bad actors have always abused that ability—has already been explained to him quite clearly by thousands of people at this point.
This bizarre obstinance has continued for weeks now. Let’s take a quick look at a more examples, and a small sampling of some of the countless replies that he’s received (and largely ignored) along the way.
The majority of them are cowardly anonymous troll demons. Dark Tetrad personalities. Look it up, anonymous reputation-savaging cowards, and observe yourself reflected @MatthewWielicki https://t.co/ns3sD7LXWf— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) December 1, 2022
I use my anonymity to learn and to share ‘banned’ info. With a new kid on the way and a small business I can’t take the risk of being cancelled.— Resist Digital ID (@JerryJa82270888) December 1, 2022
Here’s Peterson continuing his campaign against online anonymity a few days later. Notice the false framing (“Many trolls claim…), which ignores the fact that many non-trolls and many people who aren’t anonymous (or pseudonymous) at all have been “claiming” the same thing to him for weeks, as he is well aware.
Many trolls claim that anonymity protects their “free speech.” In my experience, which is extensive, anonymity enables psychopathy far more than it frees invisible heroes. Contemptible cowards comprise the overwhelming majority… https://t.co/Xff17ApHfN— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) December 7, 2022
why is voting anonymous— owen cyclops (@owenbroadcast) December 7, 2022
You are suggesting that an individual must assume a stable digital identity at a time that access to financial institutions, social platforms, and even payment processors are being restricted based on the content of their speech.— Remnant | MD (@RemnantMd) December 7, 2022
Anonymity is not about protecting free speech.
Sorry but you are wrong on this one. If a regular person expresses opinions outside of the “approved narrative” they can lose their job, bank account, and God knows what else.— The Milk Man (Prosecute/Fauci)🇺🇸 (@MrMikePlays1) December 7, 2022
“Anonymity enables psychopathy.”— HighImpactFlix (@HighImpactFlix) December 7, 2022
Sounds like something a government goon would say when he’s itching to see your papers! https://t.co/orXNfw9BvM
Peterson was back at it just over an hour later. Notice the relentless use of this false dichotomy, where you’re either a “real person” or an “anonymous cowardly troll demon,” no matter how many times he is corrected about the undeniable fact that plenty of pseudonyms people—now and throughout history, including the U.S. founding fathers—have been civil, thoughtful, insightful, brave, etc.
By failing to separate the anonymous cowardly troll demons from real people in the comments section @youtube and other SM platforms are enabling sadistic Machiavellian psychopaths and narcissists— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) December 7, 2022
There are very legitimate reasons for people to remain anonymous.— Wall Street Silver (@WallStreetSilv) December 7, 2022
And you don’t have to read the comments if you don’t want to.
.To say anything of substance, one must risk being offensive. Risking offense, in 2022, is a risk that some professionals can’t afford. Anonymity is vital to the survival of free speech.— 𝐆𝐫𝐞𝐠 🏳️🌈 (@CasuallyGreg) December 7, 2022
What is wrong with you— Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry (@pegobry) December 7, 2022
Yes, state power must be used to exile people based on their unwillingness to face a loss of income when supporting your worldview.— Aurelian of Rome ☪️ (@AurelianofRome) December 7, 2022
This absolutely does not run counter to what you have been saying for years.
Jordan Peterson wants to be this wise grandfatherly figure for society, but temperamentally he just isn’t built for it. He is so sensitive that he’s on a multi-week rampage against anonymity just because somebody called him “Jordan Pooperson” in the reply section. https://t.co/arI2a56JnJ— Big Serge ☦️🇺🇸🇷🇺 (@witte_sergei) December 7, 2022
Your rise to prominence was due to your heroic stance against a dominant, totalitarian ideology in universities backed by government force. You took on the most powerful institutions in the world. Now you’re attacking 17 yr olds in their boxers for shit posting online. https://t.co/dc4lMvcqO4— Dave Smith (@ComicDaveSmith) December 8, 2022
I hope you introspect on how much of a self-fulfilling prophecy this is becoming for you.— DatNoFact ↗ (@datnofact) December 7, 2022
You continue to ignore the positive benefits anonymity provides in allowing civil uncensored expression and to those living in countries with oppressive laws who would come to real harm.
Not all of us have a million dollar safety net if we get fired from our jobs for saying something or even liking a post online.— dissidentjuice (@AmericaFirstMo2) December 8, 2022
Anybody who agrees with censoring anonymous accounts is no better than the left. You shouldn’t have to dox your personal information to have an opinion in a world where you could get fired for having one… The rest of us can’t call Joe Rogan when we get canned.— Royce Lopez (@hippojuicefilm) December 7, 2022
Peterson again a day later:
Think for a second. Why would we mix the trolls in with the real people? Think about what that enables? I didn’t say they should be banned. I said they should be SEPARATED FROM VERIFiED PEOPLE. https://t.co/FyxFydaL0a— Dr Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson) December 8, 2022
Again: incredible obstinance and relentless false framing (“real people” vs “trolls”), while refusing to acknowledge any valid reasons to be pseudonymous or the existence of generally civil, thoughtful pseudonymous people (let alone how abundant they are). Also, he did say they should be “banned” when talking to Russell Brand (explicitly used that word), and described his KYC segregation plan as a form of banning.
How do you define “troll”? It’s not a synonym for “anonymous”. A “real person” can be a troll, and an anonymous person is not necessarily one simply because you don’t see their face or real name.— Cody Johnston (@drmistercody) December 8, 2022
This is all so obvious and ridiculous (as you can hopefully see at this point) that the real question seems to be why it’s happening: Why is Jordan Peterson so hellbent on dishonestly demonizing the entire concept of online anonymity like this? And why is he offering up policies that many can easily see would have a major chilling effect on dissent and serve as a major stepping stone toward a Chinese-style social credit score system for the internet, while ignoring literally thousands of people pointing it out to him?
Summary & Conclusion
Quoting more of the many replies to that last tweet of Peterson’s would probably be redundant at this point (you can always click the button at the bottom of it to read them), but let’s give the last word to @eugyppius, a popular pseudonymous writer who is not only not a “troll” or “demon,” but is in fact an a widely-valued contributor to the discourse around Covid and other related topics – arguably more so than Jordan “Get The Damn Vaccine” Peterson. This short thread from December 7 summarizes the predominate sentiment well:
Peterson’s crusade against anonymous internet trolls who shout at him in his youtube comments is embarrassing.
Anonymity and pseudonymity have a long tradition in western literature and politics, and both have been crucial to the internet since its inception.
It was big, central, corporatised social media (Facebook was a major early player here) who first conceived of abolishing internet anonymity, as of course advertisers, discourse police and tech surveillance operatives want nothing so much as access to your real name and address.
Drive-by comments from assholes don’t matter. Anons also produce a lot of very high-quality content, and dumb boomer-tier schemes that would require everyone to scan their government-issued ID before going online are basically social credit systems flying under another name.
As an internet anon who has backchannel conversations with a lot of other internet anons – some of them well-known and some not – I can assure you that they’re not “sadistic Machiavellian [what does that even mean?] psychopaths and narcissists”. The ones I know are doctors, lawyers, some of them are professors and the like, a few are even politicians. People with families and public personas, who can’t express their full political views under their own name in public, for fear of retaliation against their careers and their families.
A lot of the older crowd will comment under their own names, but basically every career-aged person <60 with our views will express them anonymously. The political environment has gotten very harsh and censorious very fast, for everyone who isn’t retired, tenured, or the like.